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Wine Scores and Medals

94 points from Robert Parker. A Double Gold medal from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. A French Red Trophy from the International Wine Challenge. You’ve probably seen these accolades awarded to various wines, but what do they mean?

The History of Wine Ratings:

Wine scores, ratings, and medals have been used for decades in an attempt to give shoppers some indication of a wine’s value in order to help them make better buying decisions while shopping for wine. The theory is: the higher the score, the better the wine. However, using wine ratings as your sole indicator on whether or not to purchase a wine can be misleading due to wine’s highly subjective nature. One person’s grand cru could be another person’s boxed wine, depending on the critic’s personal tastes.

How We Use Wine Ratings in the Selection Process:

At The Washington Post Wine Club, wine scores and medals are merely posted on our website for the benefit of those customers who like to refer to them when shopping for wine. They are not used in the evaluation process by our wine buying team due to the subjective nature of wine. Our parameters for selecting wines are based on a group consensus by our team of highly qualified wine experts, composed of sommeliers, Masters of Wine, chefs and enthusiasts, with over 115 combined years of experience in the industry. They taste thousands of wines each year, and only those wines that demonstrate excellent levels of typicity, balance, complexity and value are chosen.

It is important to note that just because a wine may not have an award associated with it does not mean it is an inferior wine. Wines may not have scores for any number of reasons, most notably a winemaker may not submit their wines to competitions to be judged because they don’t produce enough of the wine, or the winemaker doesn’t believe in the efficacy of wine competitions. To put it plainly, a lack of scores or awards often simply means the wine was never submitted for review.

Types of Scores:

The sheer number and types of wine competitions and rating systems around the world is dizzying. From major industry publications, like Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate, to international, national and local wine competitions, such as the International Wine Challenge and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, every one seems to be a wine critic. Here is a breakdown of the two most common scoring systems:

1. Points/Scores

Many publications use a point system with wines earning scores from 50-100. Publications that use this system include:

Wine Spectator - WS
Wine Advocate - WA
Wine & Spirits – W&S
Wine Enthusiast - WE
Stephen Tanzer - ST
Rhône Report - RR
Burghound - BH
Pinot File - PF
Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine - CGC
Guia Penin - GP

2. Medals

Wine competitions are hosted around the world, giving winemakers the opportunity to send in their wines to be judged against other wines. Major competitions include:

International Wine Challenge - IWC
Decanter World Wine Awards - DWA
International Wine & Spirits Competition - IWS
California State Fair - CSF
San Francisco International Wine Competition – SFI
San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition - SFC
Los Angeles International Wine Competition - LAI

©2016 The Washington Post and ©2016 Global Wine Company, Inc, San Rafael, CA. The Washington Post, where local law allows, has chosen Global Wine Company and its panel of experts to select the wines and operate the clubs on our behalf. In other jurisdictions, premium local retailers have been selected to provide such services.The Washington Post Wine Club is operated independently of The Washington Post’s newsroom. State laws prohibits the offer of free goods in conjunction with the sale of alcoholic beverages. The cost of all items in an offer is included in the advertised price. All wine sales are made by a licensed retailer in compliance with state laws and the licensed retailer assures all involved that it fully complies with all states’ laws applicable to it. Global Wine Co Logo All credit card payments will be facilitated by Global Wine Company, Inc., located at 1401 Los Gamos Dr. #230, San Rafael, CA 94903. Due to state laws, wine can be purchased only by adults 21 years and older. See shipping policy for states served.